Riyadh condemns Assad strikes on aid convoys

An opposition fighter fires a heavy machine gun in Jobar, an opposition-held district on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2017
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Riyadh condemns Assad strikes on aid convoys

RIYADH: The Cabinet, in its weekly meeting Monday, renewed Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Syrian air attacks on UN humanitarian aid convoys, which led to the suspension of assistance in the war-wracked country.
The meeting, chaired by King Salman, also expressed concern over the findings of an international commission on Syria — discussed by Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) — citing war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by the regime, its allies and militias against Syrian people, especially in Aleppo, causing deaths of innocent civilians and destruction of schools, hospitals, water supplies, farms and food stores.
The EU imposed sanctions on Monday against four senior Syrian military officials accused of using chemical weapons on civilians, after Russia and China blocked similar measures at the UN.
The move marks the first time the EU has blacklisted Syrian officials for the regime’s alleged use of chlorine gas during the six-year conflict, although it previously accused one commander, Maj. Gen. Tahir Hamid Khalil, of deploying chemical weapons as part of repressive tactics in 2013.
It has also targeted Syrian companies accused of manufacturing chemical weapons.
The four military officials, who the EU will name on Tuesday, will be banned from traveling to the EU and will be unable to access any assets in the bloc or its banks, according to a statement by the EU.
The EU measures take the number of people under its Syrian sanctions to 239, as well as 67 companies.
EU sanctions also include an oil embargo, restrictions on investments, a freeze of Syrian central bank assets held in the EU and a ban on exports of equipment and technology that could be used against civilians.
Meanwhile, heavy airstrikes hammered opposition-held neighborhoods of Damascus on Monday after regime forces pushed back a surprise assault that saw opposition fighters try to fight their way into the city center.
The Levant Liberation Committee, a coalition of several militant groups led by Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and the independent Failaq Al-Rahman faction spearheaded the blitz, which caught the Syrian military off guard.


Leading monitor of crucial events in the Saudi Arabia for 100 years: Umm Al-Qura newspaper

Umm Al-Qura was the first newspaper to be published during the time of Saudi Arabia's founder.
Updated 21 May 2018
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Leading monitor of crucial events in the Saudi Arabia for 100 years: Umm Al-Qura newspaper

  • It was the first newspaper to be issued at the time of the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz
  • Al-Ahmadi clarified that the newspaper’s first issue was published in December 1924

MAKKAH: It is considered one of the most important and prestigious Saudi Arabian newspapers. 

It has witnessed crucial decisions in the country, observed the history of the region throughout a century, recording details of life in the Kingdom becoming a reference for historical decisions and events.

Umm Al-Qura’s Editor in Chief Abdullah Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper has the support and supervision of Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad, who has harnessed all the resources for its modern launch. Al-Ahmadi clarified that the newspaper’s first issue was published in December 1924.

It was the first newspaper to be issued at the time of the Kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz. The headline in the first issue of the newspaper was “The Makkah Declaration,” and this story was accompanied by news and official statements.

Al-Ahmadi said that the paper continued its coverage during World War II, although its presses did stop for a period of up to eight weeks in 1924 before King Abdul Aziz ordered paper to be imported and printing to resume.

Umm Al-Qura’s first editor in chief was Sheikh Yusuf Yassin, who was followed by Rushdi Malhas. Both figures held diplomatic positions during King Abdul Aziz’s reign, along with Mohammed Saeed Abdul Maksoud, Fouad Shaker and Abdul Quddus Al-Ansari.

Al-Ahmadi added that the newspaper has monitored the personal stories of the Kingdom’s kings, giving precise details of the historical and political events of the last century. He added that it has the full Saudi archive and it has become a historical reference for history, the economy and politics.

Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper was a combination of news, sports and social events during 30 years of its foundation. It had adverts on some pages, reflecting the region’s identity and local, economic and cognitive dimensions.

Al-Ahmadi said that with its launch, the newspaper formed the memory, aspirations and ambitions of Saudi Arabia. It was the only media platform in which the world explored the local news, along with the cultural, educational and economic news. 

It covered their advocacy of the crucial decisions — notably the Palestinian cause that Saudi Arabia has defended since the time of its founder.

Umm Al-Qura’s editor in chief said his main concern, along with his former colleagues in the newspaper’s management, was its development and relaunch, pointing out that a number of challenges have been overcome. 

The newspaper has been developed across the board — from layout and content to its brand logo and colors, he said.

Al-Ahmadi added that new and modern printers have been provided, and the newspaper has improved in line with technical and modern changes. 

He said the government also helped restore the back issues damaged by moths.

The operation was carried out by specialized experts who supervised the whole operation to protect the issues from getting lost. All issues were archived online and missing issues are being updated, he added.

Al-Ahmadi said that the newspaper’s website will provide a digital media platform for the documentation process, giving integrated information about the newspaper.

Al-Ahmadi said the newspaper has a website archive for researchers and academics. 

He added that a large number of master’s and doctorate degrees as well as surveys took place with the help of the newspaper that has become a historic reference for scholars and researchers.